Competitive SEO Intelligence: How to Benchmark Rankings Success vs. Your Competition

Posted September 7, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Competitor, SEO, Website

By Ryan Woolley*, Vice President of Client Services, Response Mine Interactive

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you knew how many keywords your competitors rank for, what those exact keywords are, and how your website stacks up against those competitors? It would be even better if you could get some insight into how they are doing it. And what if it didn’t take an SEO guru to get to these answers? What if you could do it right now, spend less than a morning doing it, and spend less money on it than you’ll spend on dinner out this weekend?

If you’re not an SEO guru and want or need these answers, then this article is for you. If you are responsible at any level for the performance of your digital marketing program than I encourage you to take the time to explore the tools and tips referenced here.

One of the first questions I am asked when discussing search engine optimization with a business is “how do I stack up to my competitors?” For those of us who are truly passionate about our business, the questions around competitive landscape are some of the most burning questions that we have. Most don’t realize how easy it is to answer this question as it pertains to organic search.

Let’s begin by defining what “competition” is within organic search. Don’t assume that your organic competition is the same as what you would usually rattle off when someone asks you who your top competitors are. Search engine optimization and the ways in which Google ranks websites has created a much more level playing field than people realize. You don’t have to be the biggest brand, have the largest footprint, or have the largest marketing budget to dominate the natural rankings.

Identify Organic Competitors
Do some investigation when identifying your organic competition. There are two quick ways to do this:

  1. Go straight to the search engine results page (SERP) on Google. Take your top 10 traffic-driving keywords and your top 10 converting keywords, and record the sites that rank ahead of you. A picture will begin to emerge quickly, and you may be surprised by what you find.
  1. Save some time by using www.SEMRush.com. Type your top keywords into the search box. You’ll get the same output as you would by going to the SERP, but you can export the information directly in Excel, which can be very handy. There’s a small fee to utilize some of the exporting features and deeper data dives on this site but the information you can access makes it well worth it.

Benchmark Yourself vs. Competitors
Now it’s time to see how you measure up. We are going to stick with www.SEMRush.com here as well since it gives us some powerful insight that is easy to access.

See what you and your competitors rank for by simply entering your domain into the main search box. Under “Organic keywords” you will be presented with keywords you rank for within the top 20 positions. Click the “Full Report” link and you can export this information into Excel. Do the same for your competitor’s websites and you will have a robust picture of the quantity and exact keywords that you and they rank for.

Compare first page rankings versus your competitors to benchmark yourself. The majority of organic traffic is coming off of the first page of rankings. Also take a look at positions 11 through 15 (which would be at the top of page 2 in the rankings). These are great potential traffic drivers for you. With a little organic focus, these can be moved to page one quickly.

There are some great trending graphs as well. You’ll see a thumbnail of the trending graph off to the left side. Click it to compare your rankings versus the competition over time. Here’s an example:

 

Gain Insight Into How Your Competitors Are Winning
It’s important to note that there are many factors that impact how a website ranks for a given keyword, and this will not be the end-all factor as to why one site is outranking another. However, looking at the number and types of inbound links that a website has pointing to it will help uncover some of the how and why. It will certainly give you enough information to understand if you are running at a deficit, or if you are crushing your competitors.

Like with SEMRush, this is pretty straightforward. Start off by going to www.OpenSiteExplorer.org and click on “Compare Pages.” Add your site URL, and your competitors. Have a look at “External Followed Links.” This is the number of web pages that are linking to you. Also look at “Total Linking Root Domains,” which is the number of unique sites that are linking to you.

Google sees links pointing to your site as a vote of confidence. It values quality, relevance and authority – it’s not just a pure numbers game as to the total number of links. And if you want to understand the relevancy and quality, just click the “Inbound Links” tab to see which sites are linking to you and your competitors. Or click the “Anchor Text” tab to see what words other websites use when they link to you, as they impact your ability to rank for these terms.

Spending just a little time with this information will help give you an understanding of what is happening with off-site aspects that impact you and your competition’s rankings.

So, if you have the itch that your organic program is not up to snuff but are having a difficult time arming yourself with empirical evidence to prove it, you now have some quick and easy tools in your arsenal. While at the end of the day you may need to call in the professionals to conduct a much deeper dive into all of this, you can at least get the ball rolling by being an advocate for improving your organic rankings. Remember, life’s too short for crappy rankings.

*Ryan Woolley is vice president of client services for RMI, an award-winning digital agency that helps companies acquire more customers using lead generation programs. For more than a decade, RMI has generated billions of dollars in revenue for world-renowned brands in the b2b, healthcare, travel, and home services channels using its strategic customer acquisition approaches.

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5 Simple Rules for Job Seekers to Avoid a Social Media Pandora’s Box

Posted September 7, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Job seeker, Social media, Strategy

By Sean Jones, VP of Technology & Interactive Media, AIS Media, Inc*.

In today’s job market, both job seekers and employers are increasingly seeking to leverage social media. While candidates use social media to increase their reach, hiring managers are also using social media to screen potential candidates – often prior to an interview. For many candidates, their social media profile can make or break their career.

When used properly, a social media presence can help a candidate stand out from the rest. However, some will never know why they didn’t heard from the company they applied to.  Beer-strewn kitchens, scantily clad co-eds, late night ‘check ins’ or rants on your current employer may all be publically available to potential employers.

Social media, for all its benefit, can be a Pandora’s Box for those who don’t follow 5 simple rules.

1) The Company You Keep
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great resources for social outreach and provide a snapshot view of you and your interests – including your friends, followers and people you follow.  While party, swimsuit or bar pictures may be fun for you and your friends, and potential employer viewing these may question your judgment if your private life is made overly public.  Consider also your groups and interests – a candidate with groups and interest relevant to the career being pursued will most often be viewed as a more viable than the candidate with either no professional groups/interests or whose interests are purely social.

2) Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
Being able to ‘check in’ and share where you are at and what you are doing is a great way to meet up with friends, but be aware of these are often publically available.  Constant check-ins at bars, clubs, etc., particularly through the week and the early hours of the morning can give a potential employer the impression that you party too much or may not be prepared for work the next day.

3) Insider Trading
Every employee is aware of ‘inside’ information about their work place – from corporate politics to business practices to employee complaints.  Facebook status updates, tweets and LinkedIn updates can all be easily seen, and no employer wants to see an employee airing their ‘dirty laundry’ in a public forum.

A potential employer who sees this can only presume that you’d do the same thing at your new job.  Not only might your new employer see this, but potential customers and clients as well, which is a risk most employers simply won’t take.

4) Politics and Religion May Not Be Your Friend
Politics and religion are two areas of conversation best left to close friends, or political candidates.  These topics can be polarizing for potential employers as well as their customers and clients.

While political affiliations, church or religious groups are a common part of many people’s lives, those affiliations are appropriate to bring into the workplace. Considering the continued growth of global business, it pays for companies to watch their Ps and Qs.  Any employer wants their team to work cohesively, and those that may rock the boat too much, could be seen as more trouble than they’re worth.

5) Souring Your Personal Brand
Every post, every tweet, every LinkedIn update has the potential to make or break your social clout and reputation. As more employers screen candidate’s social media profiles, posts that could be considered embarrassing or damaging to an employer can cripple your chances for an interview.

Before you post on a public forum, consider what an employer would think should they see it.  Would it enhance or degrade your image in the eye of an employer? Would you be prepared to discuss the post in an interview? If not, it’s best to avoid posting it publically.

More highly talented and qualified candidates are competing for fewer jobs today. As more companies make use of social media to review potential employees, your online profile has become as important as your credentials.

*AIS Media, Inc. 
3340 Peachtree Road, Suite 750
Atlanta, GA 30326 USA
t: (404) 751-1043 | f: (404) 751-1044
www.aismedia.com

www.youtube.com/AISMedia

 

© Copyright 2011 AIS Media, Inc.

Posting Your Promises

Posted September 7, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Customer Experience, Loyalty

by Mike Wittenstein*, Customer Experience Designer | Customer Experience Strategist | Experience Design Firm

Brands that post their promises usually keep them. Their customers hold them to it.

lululemon is a specialty retailer of apparel and equipment for ‘sweaty pursuits’ (think yoga, dance, etc.). The brand depends on its employees to connect with their customers.

The feeling when you walk into the store (I visited the Mall of America location for Retail Customer Experience Executive Summit) is calm and relaxing, organized and vivacious. From the well-arranged merchandise to the brightly colored accents, feng shui design touches, and rolling racks that allow for free yoga classes on Saturday mornings; this store is 100% on brand.

One of the things I liked best was that the company prominently posted its manifesto on-line and its employees’ promises (to themselves) throughout the store.

When people’s work becomes a way to achieve what they’re passionate about, great things can happen–like a great customer experience. When you connect with people on their ‘Why?’ (what’s important and what drives them) instead of only on their ‘What?’ (what you want to sell them), there’s a natural attraction customers feel and an easier connection with employees.

Having a great experience usually means your customers are happy. When your customers are happy, your shareholders get happy too. How do you think lululemon’s shareholders feel about the company’s sales per square foot number coming in at US $1,731, just behind Coach and Tiffany? See the listing here.

Here’s lululemon’s manifesto:

As a direct marketer, you can see what your client sometimes can’t. You are the one who imagines a new campaign from start to finish. Help your clients get the most out of their campaigns by encouraging them to make authentic promises that matter to customers. Next, give them every opportunity to keep those promises—by carefully checking copy, by prototyping offer redemptions, sign-ups, and other processes, and by going to their stores or places of business (offer in hand) to see if one channel knows what the other one is doing!

Direct marketing is the front door to a great experience!

*Mike Wittenstein is a 20+ year marketing veteran with hundreds of assignments under his belt. He knows how to design experiences that win customers’ hearts on the front lines—and earn shareholder approval on the bottom line at the same time.

As a customer experience designer at Storyminers, Mike shops each business as a customer and works in it as an employee. Then, he helps his retail, healthcare, hospitality, and other service clients design the kind of experience their customers will appreciate and rave about.

Mike is the former Global Services e-Visionary at IBM and co-founder of GALILEO, one of the country’s first interactive agencies. He is an honors graduate of the Thunderbird School of Global Management and the University of Florida. He lives in Atlanta, speaks four languages, and travels globally as a speaker, facilitator, designer, and consultant.

Mike Wittenstein

Managing Principal

Storyminers

mike@MikeWittenstein.com

www.MikeWittenstein.com

@MikeWittenstein

+1.770.425.9830

DMA Atlanta Luncheon | Thursday Sept. 15th

Posted September 7, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: iPad, iPhone app, Luncheon, New trends

 

How the iPad is Revolutionizing Business

Richard Warner | Founder, CEO at What’s Up Interactive

In the next three months, Apple is poised to sell 20 million iPads — which is on top of the 30 million the company has already sold. More than 80% of FORTUNE 500 companies are deploying Apple tablets, which in turn, account for 80% of the tablet market.

This month, the Atlanta Chapter of the DMA looks at how iPads and other tablets are poised to revolutionize business.

Using the latest research, What’s Up Interactive CEO Richard Warner will provide an overview of the tablet landscape, including examples of best practices, technological dos and don’ts, how different demographics are using tablets and what trends we’re likely to see in 2012.

Attendees will also receive a White Paper with details on the research.

If purchased by September 9th, tickets are $40 for DMA members and $50 for non-members. Add $10 for tickets purchased September 10thor after.

When: Thursday, September 15, 2011 | 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Where: Maggiano’s-Perimeter 4400 Ashford Dunwoody Rd
Atlanta, GA 30346
Phone: 770-804-3313

Use these links to purchase tickets and learn more about the event.

Registration: https://www.123signup.com/register?id=czxns

More Info: https://www.123signup.com/event?id=czxns

About Our Speaker:
Richard Warner
 is founder and CEO of What’s Up Interactive, an Atlanta based web and video marketing firm whose clients include AT&T, the Georgia Lottery, the Georgia Aquarium, the Coca-Cola Company and Holiday Inn. He is seen frequently as a business commentator on Fox5 WAGA. He spent 30 years as a host and managing editor interviewing CEOs on “Georgia’s Business” on the state’s PBS network. Richard serves on the board of the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia and on the Georgia Film and Video Commission.

Other Information:
About DMA-Atlanta:The Power of Direct.
Relevance. Responsibility. Results.
The Direct Marketing Association of Atlanta is the leading trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting direct marketing tools and techniques. DMA Atlanta advocates industry standards for responsible marketing, promotes relevance as the key to reaching customers and prospects with desirable offers and cutting-edge research, education and networking opportunities to improve results throughout the entire direct marketing process. DMA Atlanta gives members the tools to do their jobs better!

Not a DMA Atlanta MemberJoin Now!

For more information, email us at info@dma-atlanta.com

Want to be a Sponsor? Call Aubyn Thomas at 404-941-6868, or go here for more information.

The DMA Atlanta serves all marketing professionals who understand the time-tested value of direct marketing in all its forms. Improve your business, your career and build your personal network of important people.

Downloads:
september2011luncheon-richardwarner-dma.pdf

Baby Boomers, Ergonomics and Direct Mail

Posted August 12, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Behavior, Direct Mail, Direct Marketing, Marketing Campaign Effectiveness

by Paul Prisco*, Founder and Principal at Dog Food Design,

Consider the fact that by 2030 Baby Boomers will outnumber those less than 20 years of age. Not so youthful or sexy for the future of America? Right now there almost 80 million Baby Boomers and growing with a huge capacity to drive consumer spending.

Baby Boomers are one of the most loyal and active users of direct mail. It’s been part of their daily routine for quite sometime and that’s not going to change anytime soon — regardless of the Internet, mobile and social media.

When crafting a direct marketing program for Baby Boomers consider the process of ergonomics, which is the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements, and its cognitive abilities. Great examples of brands that are adapting to this demographic shift are Ford, CVS and HP to name a few. Aging does bring on a unique set of changes to the body and mind, which does affect how you should approach direct mail in a holistic way.

Here are three key ways you can leverage the power of ergonomics to connect with Baby Boomers in a relevant and meaningful way:

1. Mail Package Format

The power of touch and physical ergonomics is one way to connect with Boomers. Physical ergonomics is concerned with human anatomical, and some of the anthropometric, physiological and biomechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity. It sounds a bit cliché but arthritis is a real concern for Boomers and handling small items can be a task for some.

• Simple is best when deciding on a direct mail package format. Avoid using complex folds to deliver your offer.

• Go big with your mail package size if you can afford it, which will allow for larger mail package components (OE, Letter, Reply Mechanism, etc.). This will deliver an easier handling experience while providing more real estate and should be most effective.

2. Overall Type Size

This approach would involve the cognizant side of ergonomics and be the most easily to implement. Cognitive ergonomics is concerned with mental processes, such as perception, memory, reasoning, and motor response, as they affect interactions among humans and other elements of a system. As we age it gets tougher to scan, read and recall type with a small point size.

• Consider headline point sizes of at least 14 point and body copy size of no smaller than 10 points. While offer and copy points are most important if they cannot be read easily you don’t have a shot.

• Avoid serif fonts that will become increasingly difficult to read when reduced. This applies for both print and digital marketing strategies.

• Do remember overall recall is higher with print media in general.

3. Icons

The use of simple and easy to decipher illustrations is another use of the cognizant side of ergonomics. Icons serve as a great platform when trying to communicate key subject areas or benefit points.

• Less is more when making a quick connection.

• Also, icons are a great substitute for costly photography which if not done tastefully will be a complete turn off to Baby Boomers.

The average Baby Boomer now cites the age of 68 as the new retirement age, which is up from 65.5 back in 2003. There’s no doubt the failure of the economy has contributed to Boomers working longer and harder. This means your direct marketing programs will have to do more to connect with this busy, distracted and potentially lucrative demographic to deliver more brand value.

*Paul Prisco is the Founder and Principal at Dog Food Design, A design and direct marketing agency for brands. He has helped leading organizations such as AARP and numerous colleges leverage design in their direct marketing programs to drive ROI. He can be reached at 404.829.2704 or paul@dogfooddesign.com.

Boosting “Be-Backs” Through Social Media: How Auto Dealers Can Leverage Social Media to Drive Sales

Posted August 12, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Auto Dealers, Sales, Social media

by Rick Ellis*, AIS Media’s Director of Business Development. 

The small town I grew up in had two new car dealerships. My grandfather owned one of them and his brother owned the other. Their mostly-friendly rivalry in our “two horse town” made for interesting family gatherings. The two of them could talk –loudly and passionately– for hours on the subject of cars. Mostly they talked about selling cars.

Each had their own loyal customers and they knew those customers’ intimately such as what cars the customer had driven through the years, their families, personal work histories, etc. Like clockwork, when it came time to trade cars, those customers would return back to “their” dealer, whether it was my grandfather or his brother/competitor.

As an automobile dealer today, you have the opportunity to develop a sense of community through social media marketing. Done right, social media marketing will directly help acquire new customers, transform existing customers into raving fans and create an ongoing stream of referral business. One of the keys to successfully engaging customers through social media marketing is properly integrating it into your dealerships’ other marketing and advertising channels.

It starts with the proper targeting of your message. The center of power for your marketing is no longer the dealership; it’s the customer. It’s not what you say to prospective customers that matters most — it’s what your existing customers are saying about your dealership and to one another.

Proper targeting with the right message and providing a forum for customers to give feedback provides qualitative insight into the thoughts and feelings customers have toward your dealership. Qualitative information often can be a good indicator of a customer’s true interests and intentions.

J.D. Power and Associates in “The Death of Demographics: Why Targeting by Purchase Behavior is Most Effective in Automobile Marketing” said, “auto marketers must embrace those new technologies and methods that better and more effectively allow them to target customers– using old methodologies simply won’t suffice.”

My grandfather and his younger brother could get quite loud when they were each trying to talk over the other and of course, neither could be heard through the noise. Effective social  media isn’t like traditional media, where competitors compete to out-shout each other. Social media marketing is a dialogue where the customer is the central focus.

Integrating social media means the customer should see consistency in all your traditional and digital marketing. Brand messaging should be related through all the channels. Otherwise you risk confusing your customer and we all know that a confused customer makes no decision.

Think of the car’s drivetrain: the engine, transmission, driveshaft and differential may all function independently, but it’s only when they work together in harmony that the wheels move, the car finds traction and moves forward. That’s the power of integrating social media – it’s like adding a turbo charger to an already powerful engine.

Customers should see your social media channels in your advertising and be encouraged to join the conversation. The sheer number of social media users today, when properly drawn to your online presence, provides an opportunity to really stand out in your market and give your customers a voice.

My uncle used to say, “the only “be-backs” (the customer who says they’ll be back tomorrow to buy a car) are the ones you’ve made good friends with”. Social media is creating showrooms  of “be-backs.”

 
*Rick Ellis, who has an MBA in e-Business, is AIS Media’s Director of Business Development. AIS Media (www.aismedia.com) is an award winning digital and social meida marketing agency. Rick tweets from http://www.Twitter.com/RickEllisNews. Connect with Rick on LinkedIn at: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/RickEllisAISMedia

 

 

 

DMA Atlanta Luncheon August 18th, 2011 | Three panel discussion: How to leverage Multi-Channel Marketing to drive success for your customers and profits to your bottom line!

Posted August 12, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Luncheon

REGISTER

Joe Lobosco | Sr. Director, Business Development
Vertis Communications

As the Sr. Director Business Development at Vertis Communications, Joe leads and manages the Direct Marketing’s business development and sales efforts.

With over 20 + years experience, Joe has held a variety of senior operations and strategic business development leadership positions to successfully drive both strategy and results.


Richard Warner | Founder, CEO
What’s Up Interactive

Richard Warner is founder and CEO of What’s Up Interactive , an Atlanta based web and video marketing firm whose clients include AT&T, the Georgia Lottery, the Georgia Aquarium, the Coca-Cola Company and Holiday Inn. He is seen frequently as a business commentator on FOX5 WAGA.

He spent 30 years as a host and managing editor interviewing CEOs on “Georgia’s Business” on the state’s PBS network, as well as 20 years as a commentator on Atlanta’s WXIA and FOX5 WAGA TV. His daily radio commentaries were syndicated on more than 200 stations nationwide.


Simms Jenkins | CEO
BrightWave Marketing

Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America’s leading email marketing focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in partnering with its clients to strategically develop, manage and optimize all digital targeted messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs and build relationships.

WHEN: Thursday August 18th, 2011  | 11:30 am – 1:30 pm

LOCATION: Maggiano’s Perimeter:  4400 Ashford Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30346 | Phone: 770-804-3313

REGISTRATION

MORE INFORMATION